About 1.5 million toy fishing poles featuring the cartoon characters SpongeBob Squarepants (search), Dora the Explorer (search), Tigger (search) and the cast of "Rocket Power" (search) are being recalled because their paint contains lead, the government said Wednesday.

Zebco, a fishing equipment manufacturer based in Tulsa, Okla., is not aware of any injuries that have occurred because of the paint, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (search) said.

Lead is toxic if ingested by young children and is associated with behavioral problems, learning disabilities, hearing problems and growth retardation, the CPSC noted.

The fishing poles feature bright pictures of popular characters like SpongeBob, Patrick Star (search) and Sandy Cheeks (search) and have "Floating Catch 'Em Kit" on the handles, except for the "Rocket Power" model.

That model is a two-piece rod with "Rocket Power" written on the rod. It was sold with sunglasses.

The poles, made in China, were sold at discount department, sporting goods and toy stores nationwide from August 2001 through March 2005. They retailed for between $9 and $13.

Newer models with a date code on the handle of the rod are not included in the recall.

Consumers are urged to stop using the recalled poles and contact Zebco, at 800-444-5581 ext. 6217, weekdays between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EDT, for a free replacement.